I love to hear other people’s stories, so today I’m speaking with the delightful Kate Evans of Another Cuppa about comfort zones and uncomfortgasms. She has also been kind enough to set the very first Uncomfortgasm Challenge!
The idea behind this blog was to push myself out of my comfort zone as well as helping others do the same, so I’ll be asking lots of different people to come up with a challenge that we both have to complete and that will take us out of our comfort zones. It would be amazing to see lots of you take the challenges too.
Keep reading to find out what the first Uncomfortgasm Challenge is!
Over to Kate…
Tell us a little bit about what you do…
Mostly, I make things. The things I get paid to make include blog posts, websites, social media and email content, and marketing plans. In the rest of my life, I make clothes, jewellery and crochet blankets. I think there is something really magical about the act of creating something.
I also read anything that stays still long enough, enjoy cooking (and eating) great vegetarian food, and do a bit of blogging.
What takes you out of your comfort zone?
Things that involve other people. Left to my own devices, I would be working by myself with my headphones in. I’ve always been socially anxious and the thought of meeting new people, spending time in large groups or even presenting my ideas to another person makes me feel slightly ill.
When was your last uncomfortgasm and what’s the story behind it?
When I found out about Alive in Berlin, I thought it sounded great because so many of my favourite bloggers, speakers and writers were going to be there. But I didn’t think it was for me. Travelling to somewhere to connect with a large group of really awesome people? That isn’t for me. I choose to get my inspiration while safely behind a computer screen.
But then, so many other things that I thought would never happen started to happen. I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, moved to a new city on my own, made a load of new friends and became much closer to old ones. And I thought, why the hell shouldn’t I go to the Alive in Berlin conference?! So I bought my ticket. And it was terrifying.
It sounds like a cliché, but buying that ticket was one of the best things I ever did. I went to a conference on my own. A conference that was a bit personal-developmenty – something that was I was a bit embarrassed to admit that I was interested in. And I spoke to people! Granted, it took Kris coming up to and introducing herself to me on the first night for me to actually start speaking to people. But I started to speak to more people, some really amazingly inspiring people, and they didn’t seem to think I was any different to them.
Since coming back I’ve been more proactive in pursuing what I want (more uncomfortgasms!) and more vocal about doing so. I’m trying not to hide my interest in personal development from my friends – if they think it’s weird, they aren’t the friends for me. I’ve made some progress towards long-term goals: I’ve signed up for a half marathon; I’ve sold my car; I’ve started giving physical possessions away. And oh yeah, I plucked up the courage to get the tattoo that I’ve been planning for years.
Tell us about your biggest or most memorable uncomfortgasm…
During my final year at university, when everyone else was applying for graduate schemes and jobs in the city, I was plotting my escape. I managed to convince Development in Action to offer me a placement with an organisation in Pune, India and I packed my bags for six months.
It wasn’t until I had arrived in Chennai, had survived a reasonably traumatic taxi ride to a hostel I’d picked out from Lonely Planet, and was lying on a grotty, sheet-less mattress watching geckoes run across the wall that I realised that this was quite a big deal. “What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself. I was half a world away from my family, my friends and my boyfriend. I was committed to spending six months navigating a different country and culture without my usual support network. I was terrified.
It took me a good couple of months to not be scared of everything: of working out where I was going when none of the signs were in English, of having to have an argument with every rickshaw driver about whether they were going to put the meter on or not, of being constantly bombarded with new experiences, and new people to talk to. But it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life: because if I could do that as a shy, sheltered 21-year-old who’d never travelled anywhere on her own, I can do anything.
What are you planning for your next uncomfortgasm?
This year I want to expand my comfort zone at home. I want to shake up my routine and prove that I don’t have to plan something big to be brave. I can be brave every day: by striking up conversation with something I haven’t spoken to before, by putting myself forward for things at work, by increasing my personal fitness, and by putting more of my writing out into the world.
Your Uncomfortgasm Challenge…
Within the next two weeks, go and meet a bunch of people who you’ve never met before…
I’ve lived in Oxford for about a year now. I’ve settled into a lovely house and have a fantastic group of friends in my office. But I still don’t know anyone who I don’t live or work with. A while ago, I was researching places I could go to in order to increase my social circle and wrote down a list of knitting and crochet groups that meet regularly. The list lay on my desk for about three weeks but I had yet to go to any of them.
So what was holding me back? Procrastination, mainly. I was continually taking the easy option but telling myself it was a valid excuse “I need to stay at home tonight to save money”; “I deserve some quiet time by myself”; “I should go for a run instead.”
Then I spoke to Mike about setting this challenge. I now had it as a non-negotiable activity that I was committed to, which was great. I didn’t even think about excuses. I told my boyfriend that I was busy until 7pm and I went along.
I was early, of course, and I became increasingly nervous as I loitered in the bar by myself. After what felt like hours but was actually only about ten minutes, I spotted a pair of knitting needles sticking out of the top of someone’s handbag.
“Are you here for the knitting group?” I asked. She was, and was delighted that somebody new had seen the advert and decided to come along. Soon, two other women joined us and we were all chatting about how our weeks were going. Arts and crafts are a great facilitator of conversation if you’re shy, because you can focus on what your hands are doing and aren’t expected to make eye contact while you talk. But after a while I relaxed and time flew by.
“See you next week,” I said as we all left. And I’m pretty sure I will because I had a smile on my face as I walked home. Making friends isn’t that scary at all.
Thanks Kate! Loved the challenge and will post my experience to the comments!
As a reminder, the first Uncomfortgasm Challenge is to:
Go and meet a bunch of people who you’ve never met before…
It might be a reading group, social group, or something around your hobbies/interests. Just find something that sounds fun and turn up.
If you don’t have any ideas, you can find groups on websites like meetup.com and most of them are free or very cheap.
And don’t forget, you’ve got two weeks to get it done, so no excuses!
Post to the comments what it is you’re going to do and let us know how it goes!